May 15th Update

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
To say that the last few months have been out of the ordinary would be an understatement. It was especially hard for us as Christians to miss worshipping together during Holy Week. Thankfully, the Lord has blessed us with the technology to continue worshipping digitally. However, this is no true substitute for worshipping as one body and receiving the encouragement of Christian friends on a Sunday morning or Monday evening.
 
Throughout this whole ordeal, we been trying to follow the principals that are laid out scripture, particularly concerning the 3rd, 4th, and 5th commandments. I Peter 2:11-17 states:
 
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and temporary residents in the world, to abstain from the desires of the sinful flesh, which war against your soul. 12 Live an honorable life among the Gentiles so that even though they slander you as evildoers, when they observe your noble deeds, they may glorify God on the day he visits us.
13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the king as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those who have been sent by him to punish those who do what is wrong and to praise those who do what is right. 15 For this is God’s will: that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 Do this as free people, and do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but use it as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
 
And while this time has been stressful for everyone involved, I also trust that God is using it for his own good purposes. 1) Families are spending more time together. 2) People are taking the time to study God’s Word using our Bible studies, personal devotions, and other online resources. 3) We have had to relearn scriptural virtues like patience, endurance, trust, etc. 4) Church families are calling each other more. 5) We are going to have a renewed appreciation for public Word and Sacrament when this is all over. 
 
And, of course, there is much more good that God will bring about in his own time.
 
Before I give you the plan, I want to make one thing very clear: We don’t want to endanger the health of anyone in our church family. Therefore, if you don’t feel safe coming to church yet, stay home. Pastor Burger and I will continue to tape the services ahead of time, like we’re doing now. And we will continue to offer private communion to everyone. And, eventually, we hope to be able to visit people in their homes again.
 
Now, for reopening public worship:
  • The new target date is Sunday, June 7th.
  • There will be 3 services on Sunday (8, 9:30, 11am) and 1 on Monday night (7pm)
  • The 8am Sunday service and the Monday night service, for lack of a better term, are being called “restricted” services. These services will be geared to those who are in the vulnerable categories. As such, there will be no singing at this service. And we are encouraging the wearing of masks for these services, if medically able.
  • The 9:30am and 11am services will have some singing. The liturgy will follow the template that we are currently using for our online services. The services will naturally be shorter than normal.
  • Between each service, the church will be sanitized.
  • We will most likely have people sign up ahead of time for which service they want to attend. And currently we are going to limit the number of people at each service to 50. (This could change depending on government rules). The sign up will be on our website, or the church office can be called. (More info on this will be sent out as we get closer to opening.)
  • The offering will be gathered in the back of the church in an offering box.  
  • For communion, only the pastor will handle the elements. (We’ll have sanitizer for the pastor under the lectern). There will be no common cup. And we’ll space people out when they approach the altar.
All of this is very new for us as a church, so I ask your patience if the first few weeks are a little discombobulated. Also, because of the nature of this virus and the various rules being put into place, the plans we have in place now could change rapidly. We’ll keep everyone notified on a regular basis on any changes.

March 17th Updates

The pastors and the church council have made the difficult decision to cancel the next two Sunday services, along with the rest of the Wednesday Lenten services. The President of the United States and the CDC is recommending that no more than 10 people be gathered at one in one place. For sake of the safety and health of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will move our worship online for the next couple of weeks. Praise to the Lord that we have the technology to do that.

Every weekday, Pastor Tullberg will be releasing a short Bible study on the Small Catechism. Pastor Burger will be putting out videos that deal with anxiety, worry, death, the future, etc. Please share these videos with your friends. This is a great time for outreach, because God has answers to so many questions that unbelievers are asking.

On Saturday night, you’ll be emailed a family Bible study that can be done on Sunday.

On Sunday, we’ll have on YouTube a truncated worship service. https://www.youtube.com/user/sothlansing1

If you need to meet with a pastor, please make an appointment. Office hours might be sporadic.

One last note – the work of God’s church hasn’t stopped. We will continue to preach the Gospel. We just need to adjust to the current conditions, as Christians have been doing for 2,000 years. We pray to God that we will be back to our normal way of worship quickly, but we trust that God is in control of the timetable.

Don’t forget that our church must continue to pay its bills, and that our synod will also most likely face a shortfall because of this. You can mail your offering to the church, or donate online at https://www.sothlansing.org/give-online/

Below is a list of daily devotionals and websites:

The WELS has daily general devotions, as well as devotions for teens.
 
Our sister synod, the ELS, also has daily devotions
 
Peace Devotions has really good video devotions
 
What About Jesus has good articles and devotions, especially articles to share with unbelievers.
 
Time of Grace has devotions, sermons, and articles
 
WELS News YouTube has thousands of recorded sermons
 
WELS Radio has music from WELS bands and choirs
 
 

Temporary Changes at SOTH

March 12, 2020

Dear Member of SOTH,
Your church council spent some detailed time in our March meeting discussing the COVID-19 virus, recommendations from government and health officials, and have decided to make some temporary changes.
 
These changes take into account the fact that health officials suspect, that while this new Coronavirus is mostly spread in the air (coughing and sneezing for example), it is possible the virus can live on surfaces for some time, and be taken into the body by hands touching the eyes and face.
 
The virus is also peculiar in that, while it poses a minimal danger to children, they can become some of the most active transmitters of the disease. For the elderly, the effects can be life-threatening, as well as to anyone whose immune system is weak.
 
Here specifically are our encouragements, recommendations, and temporary policies in response to the situation as of today:
  • If you feel ill, have a cough or sneeze, or are immune-compromised, we encourage you to refrain from worship temporarily. We will have our service posted online, usually by Sunday afternoon. We are evaluating other worship options as well if the situation changes. The pastors can also come to you and bring you the Lord’s Supper, or you can stop by the church during the week (please call ahead).
  • We would like to encourage our older members to attend the 8:00 AM Sunday services.
  • We would like to encourage our younger members, and families with children, to attend the 10:30 AM services.
  • There will no Bible study or Sunday School between services until further notice, as cleaning and sanitizing will take place between services.
  • We will not be passing the offering plate. A box or boxes will be set up for you to place your offering on the way out of the church. Please investigate also our online giving options. https://www.sothlansing.org/give-online/
  • On Communion Sundays, we will suspend the use of the common cup for now. For the same reason, we will encourage you to extend your hand to receive the wafer dropped into it.
  • After services this Sunday, the hymnals will be removed for cleaning and sanitizing. (This needs to be done anyhow!). We will use a printed bulletin for all hymns and liturgy for the near future. When the health risks have passed, we will return to our hymnals. We are asking you to take the bulletin home and not return to the back desk.
  • And we have learned a new and foreign concept to SOTH: “Social Distancing”. We are a very friendly church—so now we are asking you to be more aloof, but to be aloof with a smile and a nod. This will pass. So, when you leave the church, try to avoid the normal hugs, handshakes, and closeness we have as the body of Christ.
John 14: 27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let it be afraid.” In that peace which Jesus gives, let us continue to serve our Savior in our lives and callings. We trust these temporary changes reflect both our trust in God’s care for us, and in his encouragement to take care of the bodies and lives he has given to us.
 
William Stiefel – Congregation President